I had the opportunity to speak at the Texas CU League’s Marketing Conference this week in San Antonio. I arrived a few hours before the Conference Registration started so I decided to visit The Alamo which was only a few blocks from my hotel. I had never been to The Alamo before but I knew the story of how soldiers and patriots from Texas tried in vain to defend it from invading Mexican forces.
I can tell you that I was pretty surprised by what I saw. The Alamo was not the huge fort that I had envisioned. As a matter of fact, had there not been signs indicating that it was The Alamo, I might have walked right by it. Nonetheless, I entered the hallowed ground and began to walk around – looking at the buildings that are left and reading the various placards that are located throughout the property. What struck me most was the reverence that is still paid, 175 years later, to the fallen soldiers who were fighting to defend their beloved Texas Republic. If you’ve never been, be sure to visit the Shrine (which is the building that you see on most postcards and photos.)
As I left and was walking back to my hotel, I began to think that The Alamo was much like the credit union industry. I have often said that credit unions need to do a better job of letting people know what they’re all about and that they are present in most communities. But sadly, so many potential members walk right by credit unions just as I almost walked right by The Alamo. As I mentioned, the Battle of The Alamo was decisively won by the Mexican side due in large part to the enormous advantage that they had in terms of the number of soldiers fighting for them. -an estimated 2400 Mexican soldiers against 260 for the Texan side. In much the same way, credit unions are very much outnumbered by their competitors in the banking industry – there is no doubt about that. But like the valiant Texan soldiers who fought so hard to defend their Republic, credit unions continue the fight for their members and for their livelihood.
The lessons I learned from The Alamo are: (1) credit unions have a terrific opportunity to let more consumers know that they are ready, willing, and able to help. There is no reason that potential members should pass credit unions by. Credit unions, like The Alamo are steeped in history and serve a distinct and important purpose. Like the Texan soldiers, credit unions need to get up on the wall and not be afraid to be heralds for their cause and (2) even though credit unions are smaller than their banking competition, they can and must continue to fight valiantly for their cause.
So for me, visiting The Alamo wasn’t just a stop at a major tourist hot-spot. It was a reflection of the past as well as a reminder of the opportunities that exist for credit unions in the present and what is possible in the future.